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The AKO Caine Prize announces its 2020 judges

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has announced its panel of judges for 2020. Having marked its 20th anniversary last year, the AKO Caine Prize is looking forward to a new decade of exploring and recognising exceptional African literature.

This year’s Chair of Judges is director of the Africa Centre, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE. A prominent figure in the cultural sphere, Kenneth was made a CBE in recognition of his services to dance, which included working with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. As a passionate champion of the arts, he brings a welcome diversity of experience to the judging panel.

Kenneth will be joined on the panel by Audrey Brown, a South African journalist with BBC Africa in London; Gabriel Gbadamosi, a poet, playwright and essayist who won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize in the Best International Novel category for Vauxhall, published in 2013; Kenyan journalist James Murua, whose prominent blog publishes news and reviews from the African literary scene; and Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, a Dutch-Ethiopian editor currently working at the Council for Culture, where she advises the Dutch Parliament on arts, culture and media.

Commenting on the 2020 panel, Ellah Wakatama OBE, Chair of the AKO Caine Prize, said: “We are honoured to announce such remarkable cultural figures as our 2020 AKO Caine Prize judges. I’m sure that, with his wealth of experience across art forms, Kenneth Tharp will make an excellent Chair, and I wish all the judges great success in deciding our 2020 shortlist and, ultimately, in judicating this year’s winning story.”

The judging panel will meet to determine which entries will make the shortlist, with an announcement on their selection to be published in May 2020.

Notes to Editors:

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. Its main sponsor is the AKO Foundation, whose primary focus is the making of grants to projects which promote the arts and improve education.

Increasingly, the Foundation aims to help start up, and be the catalyst for, new charitable projects which otherwise could not have been realised. The Foundation also takes pride in having a very lean structure so that it can make fast decisions, proving an invaluable ally for the Prize.

The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality. Works translated into English from other languages are not excluded, provided they have been published in translation, and should such a work win, a proportion of the prize would be awarded to the translator.

The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and JM Coetzee, are Patrons of the Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Ellah Wakatama OBE is the Chair and Dele Fatunla is the Administrator.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika is Goldsmiths Prize 2020 judge.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika was announced a judge of the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 on January 24, 2020.

The Goldsmiths Prize is a British literary award, founded in 2013, for fiction that “breaks the mould, opens up new possibilities for the novel form, and embodies the spirit of invention.” Worth £10,000 to the winner, it is sponsored by Goldsmiths, University of London in association with the New Statesman. The award is limited to UK and Irish authors and books must be published by a UK-based publisher.

The judges for the 2020 edition of the prize were announced and one of the judges, Sarah Ladipo Manyika.

Manyika is the author of In Dependence (2009) and Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (2016). She was shortlisted for the Goldsmith Prize for the latter novel in 2016.

The novelist stated on her social media after the announcement; “Dear friends, this year I’m excited to be serving on the panel of judges for the 2020 Goldsmiths Prize. The prize rewards fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form. If you know of any great books that would be eligible for consideration please do send these books in!”

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The AKO Foundation offers major support to The Caine Prize for African Writing.

AKO Foundation to provide core costs of the Caine Prize for next three years

The Caine Prize for African Writing is delighted to announce a new partnership with the AKO Foundation, a London based charity supporting projects which promote the arts, improve education or mitigate climate problems. As part of the agreement, the Prize becomes the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, and will receive a grant to cover its core costs.

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is regarded as the most important and influential literary prize for African writing. Aiming to bring the work of African writers to an international audience, the Prize recognises, promotes and celebrates the exceptional literary works of the continent. The Foundation’s funding will enable the Prize to continue supporting writers in Africa through literary workshops, the publication of the annual anthology, and the annual award.

Commenting upon his support for the Prize, Nicolai Tangen, Founder of the AKO Foundation, said: “We are delighted and proud to sponsor the AKO Caine Prize, and look forward to seeing the literary landscape flourish and prosper with further excellent contributions from African authors. In supporting the Prize we are making clear our desire to encourage and celebrate the exceptional work of African writers.”

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has expressed its gratitude to the Foundation for this “invaluable support”, and to all other dedicated supporters of the Prize for their commitment to celebrating outstanding African writing.

“Counting the AKO Foundation as our ally not only promises more stability for the Prize, but allows us to plan for the future with additional confidence and ambition,” said the AKO Caine Prize Chair Ellah Wakatama OBE. “We are so grateful to the Foundation, as well as to all our existing donors, who have provided generous and consistent support throughout the years, and we look forward to championing literature from Africa and her diaspora in this new chapter for the Prize.”

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‘Queen of Suspense’ Mary Higgins Clark dies aged 92

Each of the American author’s 56 novels was a bestseller and her fiction was extolled by writers from Scott Turow to David Foster Wallace

Mary Higgins Clark, the “Queen of Suspense” who topped charts with each of her 56 novels, has died at the age of 92.

Simon & Schuster president Carolyn Reidy said that Higgins Clark died on 31 January in Naples, Florida, from complications of old age. The author published her first novel, Where Are the Children? in 1975, going on to sell more than 100m copies of her compulsive suspense novels in the US alone. She published her most recent thriller, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, about a journalist investigating sexual misconduct at a television news network, in November.

Crime author Alafair Burke, who collaborated with Higgins Clark on the Under Suspicion series, said she would “miss my friend and co-author, but consider myself one of the luckiest people around to have had the chance to tell stories with one of my favourite writers, the Queen of Suspense.

“Through it all, I marvelled at Mary’s kindness, loyalty, and utter devotion to the work of being a writer. She could write me under the table, insisting we could get a few more pages in when I felt a snack break coming,” said Burke on Twitter. “When we went to an outdoor book festival in August, I kept sneaking off to the air-conditioned ladies’ room, but Mary stayed at the table and posed in the heat for selfies long after the books had sold out.”

Higgins Clark’s fellow authors spoke of her generosity, especially to new writers. Harlan Coben said he was heartbroken to learn of Higgins Clark’s death, describing her as “a generous mentor, hero, colleague, and friend” who “taught me so much”. Laura Lippman called her a trailblazer, adding that “so many of us owe our careers to her”. Scott Turow said she was “an extraordinarily gracious person, unpretentious and remarkably generous in a hundred ways”.

In her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, Higgins Clark wrote of “aching, yearning, burning” to write when she was young. It was an achievement made in the face of heavy odds. Her father died when she was 11, and she went to secretarial school after graduating from high school in the Bronx in New York. She went on to work as an air stewardess. After flying for a year, she married Warren Clark, who she had known since she was 16. She sold her first short story in 1956, for $100. After Clark died in 1964, she began writing radio scripts for a living, while also trying her hand as a novelist. She would write from 5am to 7am, before getting her five children ready for school.

‘I know I’m a good Irish storyteller’ … Mary Higgins Clark at the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade in 2011.
Mary Higgins Clark at the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade in 2011. Photograph: D Dipasupil/FilmMagic
“My mother’s belief in me kept alive my dream to be a writer. My father’s early death left her with three young children to support. A generation later my husband’s early death left me in exactly that position, except that I had five children,” she wrote.

“Mother supported us by renting rooms, allowing our paying guests to have the privilege of preparing light meals in the kitchen. I supported my family by writing radio shows. Very early in the morning I put my typewriter on the kitchen table before I went to work in Manhattan and spent a few privileged and priceless hours working on my first novel.”

She sold Where Are the Children? when she was 47. Telling of a young mother who has fled her original life after the death of her first two children, only for her next two to disappear, it was a huge hit. David Foster Wallace taught it in his college classes, and Coben recalled a letter from the Infinite Jest author, in which he called it “one of the scariest fucking books I’ve ever read”. (“Sorry about the language, Mary!” Coben added.)

She wrote, she told the Guardian in 2015, about “very nice people whose lives are invaded”. In 1988, she struck what the New York Times reported was “the first eight-figure agreement involving a single author”, with a multi-book contract that guaranteed her at least $10.1m. Given the Authors Guild Foundation award for Distinguished Services to the Literary Community in 2018, she was the recipient of numerous awards and 21 honorary doctorates, and saw many of her books adapted for film and television.

“Let others decide whether or not I’m a good writer. I know I’m a good Irish storyteller,” she said, when she was the grand marshal of the St Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan in 2011.

Derrick Nnadi Won His First Super Bowl Ever & Celebrated it Big.

Michael Corda, her editor at Simon & Schuster since 1975, said: “She always set out to end each chapter on a note of suspense, so you just had to keep reading. It was a gift, but also the result of hard work … She was unique. Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers; she understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read – and, perhaps more important, what they didn’t want to read – and yet she managed to surprise them with every book.”

On Sunday, Nigerian-American football player, Derrick Nnadi and his team the Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl trophy in 50 years and he decided to celebrate in an unconventional but very sweet way.

After winning the 2020 Super Bowl on Sunday night, the NFL star revealed that he decided to celebrate by giving back to the community. So thanks to Nnadi, every dog at the KC Pet Project animal shelter is free to adopt.

“All my life I always wanted a dog, growing up I didn’t have a pet, my parents didn’t really allow pets,” Nnadi told CNN. He got his first dog, Rocky, in college, and it inspired him to want to help other animals.

Nnadi’s partnership with KC Pet Project was sponsored through his own Derrick Nnadi Foundation. The foundation works to help the lives of children in Kansas City and Nnadi’s hometown of Virginia Beach.

Photo Credit: @Derricknnadi

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